An Indiana University of Pennsylvania student whose reputed Snapchat post triggered a controversy over racial relations apparently is no longer enrolled at IUP.
“Nicholas Enders is not a currently registered student,” IUP Executive Director of Media Relations Michelle Fryling said in an email Tuesday. But she would not specify whether Enders left voluntarily or was expelled, per university policy.
Enders was identified as the face of a video that, as a change.org petition described it, “threatened bodily harm and used a variety of racial slurs.”
Reportedly, he was in that video with two other individuals, but they were not identified.
“What were they doing?” IUP Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Thomas C. Segar wondered at a forum convened last week to provide “A Community Response to Hate,” from students, faculty, staff and their families.
The petition was started by Rachael Henderson, like Enders a criminology student at IUP, and urged the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to expel Enders.
It also alleged that “The Indiana University of Pennsylvania has a long-running history of incidents that involve hate speech and racism.”
That was an apparent reference to such incidents as the posting of another Snapchat video in December 2015, showing a group of black students mingling in the lobby of the university library, but with a caption that read, “monkeys stay in groups.”
The petition netted more than 1,300 signatures in the days immediately after Henderson posted it. The number slowed down in the past week but totals more than 1,400 with a goal of 1,500 signatures.
Henderson could not be reached for comment.
Enders no longer can be found in the university directory, where an email address was found that may have been used when Enders was interviewed by KDKA-TV, expressing regret about the Snapchat posting.
“I was extremely intoxicated and possibly roofied,” Enders told the TV station in an email. “I know it’s no excuse, but that’s the only justifiable reason I have for saying what I did.”
That interview came as the university was “addressing a racist social media post made by a member of the IUP community,” as officials put it in a Sept. 6 campus-wide email.
Fryling was responding to inquiries by The Penn, the IUP student newspaper that quoted her in a story in its Tuesday edition, and The Indiana Gazette.
The student publication was summing up recent events surrounding that social media post, including coverage of two forums held by the university last week
One was the aforementioned “Community Response to Hate” Sept. 10 in the Great Room of IUP’s Elkin Hall.
“We need all constructive voices working together to make IUP a place where we actively continue to promote diversity, equity and inclusion,” said event organizers Segar and IUP chief diversity and inclusion officer Elise Glenn.
It was followed by a second, similar event the following day.
“I am most impressed at how our students comported themselves … with courage as well as dignity and respect for others, sound questions and good suggestions,” IUP President Dr. Michael A. Driscoll told the university’s Council of Trustees last week. “Their clearest message is that we must work proactively, continually and visually to move closer to our vision of a diverse and inclusive community where hate has no place.”
The Penn also reported that a subdivision of the IUP Student Government Association was set up specifically to work toward “creating a safe and inclusive environment at IUP,” with meetings slated Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Elkin Hall Great Room, then on Oct. 31 and Nov. 28.
The Snapchat video and subsequent events prompted a Philadelphia-based organization to reach out to Enders. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education describes itself as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that defends student and faculty rights and civil liberties on campus.”
But Zachary Greenberg, program officer for FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, said Tuesday, “we’re having a bit of trouble getting in touch with him.”
Greenberg said he hoped to contact Enders but was unable to do so using what apparently now is his former IUP email address.
“Our sole purpose is to better understand what happened here,” Greenberg said.
The Gazette also sought, without success, to reach him using that address, while it was still available on the university’s directory.